Tuesday, January 27, 2009



Italian frittata's and Spanish tortilla's are essentially the same things, a thick, egg, almost quiche-like omelet filled with various ingredients. Like a regular omelet, you can put whatever you want in a frittata and naturally, it's a great way to use up leftovers. Unlike regular folded french omelets, the fillings are cooked suspended in the egg rather than wrapped up like a crepe.


You can eat them hot out of the pan or at room temperature. They are not limited to the breakfast plate however. Sliced up they also make good tapas. They're great with a salad for lunch and would even make a substantial protein for dinner.

Fresh herbs I had in the fridge

Boiled sliced spuds

I always like to include a lot of chopped fresh herbs and boiled sliced potatoes in mine. This time around, I also added some caramelized onion and red bell pepper for color.

Caramelized onion and red pepper

Runny side up, ready to "flip"

Preparation goes something like this. Chop up all your ingredients, par boil the potatoes and let cool. In the meantime, saute your veggies if using. Beat eggs (I usually go with about three per person). Heat up a non-stick pan. Gently fold in herbs, potatoes, and veggies into the beaten eggs and season with a little s&p. When pan is hot, stir around a couple of teaspoons of butter or olive oil, or give it a shot of cooking spray and slowly pour in the egg mixture. Tilt the pan to distribute everything evenly and allow to cook on medium-low to medium heat for a few minutes. The time will vary depending on how thick the mixture is and how hot the pan is. The trick is to have the heat low enough to not burn the bottom as the top takes time to dry up a little. Test the frittata for doneness by lifting an edge with a wooden spoon. If it comes away from the pan and more or less holds it's shape then you are ready for the flip. Take a plate that is just as large as the pan and cover the frittata. Using both hands, lift the plate and the pan and turn the whole thing upside down. The frittata is now on the plate cooked side up. To finish cooking, slide the frittata back into the pan for a few seconds just to finish cooking the runny side.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fettuccine con Verdure Fresche

Fettuccine con Verdure Fresche

Okay, I don't know what to call this or what I was thinking when I made it other than I was hungry. Sometimes, despite good intentions, things don't always come out awesome in the kitchen. In fact, a lot of meals are just like this one, utilitarian in nature, but I decided to post this concoction anyway in the interest of complete transparency. Yeah, sometimes you just have to eat and you eat what ya got.

So what is it? As mentioned before, I have no idea what to call it but it started with some fettuccine. To this, I par-boiled some veg before transferring it to a wok with some minced garlic and olive oil and tossed it around for a bit. Then I added a hand full of Parmesan cheese and voila! I ate it.

Actually in retrospect, it wasn't too bad after all. It wasn't the nicest presentation but I guess you can say it was healthy enough and it did what was intended, "it filled a hole" as they say.

Now if it had an Italian name, maybe it would sound intentional. How about "fetuccine con verdure fresche"? Yeah that's it... That's what I had intended to make all along.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

French Toast

French Toast

I was 15 years old when the Academy Award winning movie Kramer vs. Kramer was playing in movie theaters. Thinking back, it was a pretty heavy movie for a 15 year old to be watching, after all, it dealt with divorce, probably the last thing on a high school kid's mind unless they were unfortunate enough to have had experienced it first hand. I have no idea what made me and the other kids I saw it with think it was going to be age appropriate, maybe because it won an Oscar and it seemed like a good idea at the time, either that or Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was already sold out.

After all these years, I can't remember much of the plot of the movie itself, I do however, remember a specific scene toward the end in which Dustin Hoffman had to prepare one final breakfast for his kid. Hoffman's character, a newly divorced father raising his young son played by a very young Justin Henry, frantically made a complete mess of his kitchen in his attempt to cook the perfect French toast. In addition to that very specific memory, I also recall that after the movie, all I could think of eating was French toast. That revealing fact in a nutshell seems to explain why I am a foodie today.

French toast, or Gypsy toast as it's known in parts of England, couldn't be easier to make. Beat some eggs, add a little milk, dunk some bread slices in it and fry it up in a little butter. Although some folks like their French toast with savory toppings, I like to treat it like a lazy man's pancake. Similar in concept, French toast boasts all the flavors of a nicely executed flapjack without the necessary technical skill to make one. You know how when you make a batch of pancakes the first couple are always sacrificial, meaning they always turn out funky before the pan gets the perfect seasoning to brown them correctly? Well French toast is by far easier to make.

I top mine with butter and maple syrup. This usually means I'll be having something salty like ham or sausages on the side to balance out the sweetness of the French toast. I know it's a pretty boring way to eat them given the fact that French toast is a perfect foundation for all kinds of toppings. For a few ideas, check out IHOP's menu.

Another Bean Salad

Cannellini and Green Bean Salad

Bean salads have become one of my go-to side dishes because they're so easy to make with whatever you have on hand, and they're filled with fiber and flavor. They are good as an accompaniment to pasta, a sandwich or a homemade pizza. My formula is a simple one; beans (of course), vegetables, something from the onion family, oil and an acid.


Here's another one made with cannellini beans, green beans, red bell peppers and green onions. This salad is dressed with olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Pear, Gorgonzola and Medjool Date Pizza

Pear, Gorgonzola and Medjool Date Pizza

Okay, so perhaps I'm being hypocritical by posting this pizza so shortly after writing that the evolution of pizza has gone too far and it's time to get back to basics, but it is one of my favorite "new" pizzas.

The pizza I'm talking about is the pear and Gorgonzola pizza. Although I've had versions that eat more like a salad on a bread plate, my aim was to bake a sweet dessert pizza, more like a pear tart on a pizza crust.

After rolling out the leftover dough from the last batch I made, I topped it with Bosc pear slices, chopped Medjool dates and a sprinkling of funky Gorgonzola. Into the outdoor grill it went and when it was all nice and crispy (about eight minutes), out onto the cutting board it slid to cool a little before it got drizzled with some clover honey.

The toppings were sweet but the sweetness was nicely offset by the savory Gorgonzola and the crust which took on an almost smokiness imparted by the grill. Some vanilla ice cream was definitely in order... if I had some in the freezer that is. Guess there will have to be a next time.

Tomato Feta Caper Onion Pizza

Tomato, Feta, Caper, Onion Pizza

Pizza's have evolved quite bit since the first ones I can remember eating. In the town I grew up in, there was a Magoo's pizza wagon parked on the main highway through town. The selection was pretty standard for the day; pepperoni, sausage, mushroom, a combination, the "Hawaiian" ham and pineapple (I'll say more on this some other time), or you could select your own combination of toppings. Pizza proved to be a popular treat in Hawaii as evidenced by chains like Pizza Hut and Domino's quickly staking claim in mini-malls all over town. Today, pizza is an ubiquitous fixture on America's food landscape. Open any phone book, (wow, am I dating myself or what?) rather, do a search online in any metropolitan area and your pizza choices are vast.

The humble pizza's evolution has brought us Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchen, just two of many institutions that aren't shy about baking anything on top of a crust and calling it a pizza. Now, I like myself a good barbecue chicken pizza once in a while just like the next guy, but there is such a thing as taking things too far. Often, pursuits in innovation and novelty result in losing touch with the fundamentals. I needed to get back to basic pie making.

Practicing my pizza dough recipe I came up with this Greek inspired pizza recipe. Well, Greek only because feta cheese stands in for the usual mozzarella. At the time of writing this post, I Googled "Greek pizza" and found a fantastic Greek food blog called Kalofagas. Turns out the Greeks have been making pizza or "ladenia" as it's called on the Greek island of Kimolos, probably as long as, if not longer than the Italians have. For all food Greek, the Kalofagas blog is a must. Check it out. I will definitely be sampling his recipes in the future.

So here's my pizza dough recipe. Just five ingredients go into my fool proof pizza dough (hey, if I can do it...); 2 to 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 packet of yeast, 1 cup of lukewarm water, a pinch of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt.

In a large bowl, pour in the lukewarm water, sprinkle the yeast over the surface and add the pinch of sugar to activate the yeast. Let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes in a warm draft free place until it starts to get all frothy. Next, add a cup of flour and the salt while stirring. As the flour begins to absorb the water yeast mixture, continue adding flour until the mixture starts to form a ball and comes away from the bowl. Plop the dough ball onto a floured work surface and knead for about ten minutes or until you get tired of kneading, adding flour as necessary to keep the dough from getting too sticky. The more you knead, the more elastic the dough will become. A little kneading will produce more of a bread like consistency once baked, similar to a foccacia bread. A lot of kneading will give you a dough that will bake into a crispy thin crust. At this point, transfer the dough into a lightly (olive) oiled bowl, cover with a damp towel and allow to rise for about forty five minutes. It should double in size. While you're waiting for it to rise, you can prepare all your toppings.

After the dough has had a chance to rise, dump it out onto a floured surface and you should have enough dough for two large pies or one gigantic trash can lid sized pie. I suggest going with two. Roll out half of the dough and make it as thin as you'd like. I prefer mine thin and crispy. Top with sauce, and cheese and anything else you'd like.

Now comes the baking part. For me, nothing works better than my outdoor grill. I crank the heat up as high as it will go, around 600 degrees, and stick the pizza in. I forgot to mention, I use a perforated non-stick pizza pan or you could probably get even better results if you use one of those expanded metal mesh pans found at a restaurant supply place. Why? Because more heat will hit the bottom of the crust directly making it super crispy. Ten to twelve minutes later, and the pie is done; crispy on the bottom, nicely browned on top just like I like 'em.

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Here's a simple lentil soup made with beef broth, diced carrots, onions, celery and Portuguese sausage.

Although we never ate much in the way of lentils while growing up, I've grown to really enjoy them. Lentils have a certain meatiness to them and are extremely versatile. They're good used in soups of course, and salads or as a hot side dish or even fried in patties for a vegetarian main course. In addition to the fact that lentils are used as an ingredient in many old world cuisines, they contain a good amount of fiber and really fill you up, making them a good choice to keep stocked in your pantry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stuffed Calamari

Stuffed Calamari

There's a little Italian American restaurant in Honolulu called Auntie Pasto's. Back when I first ate there twenty years ago, there weren't too many casual neighborhood Italian eateries to choose from in Hawaii and Auntie Pasto's was one of the better choices in my memory. Since that time, as food culture and awareness flourished and foodies grew more sophisticated, more and more Italian restaurants opened their doors to a hungry Hawaiian public eager for new flavors.

Although I enjoy sampling authentic, regional Italian cuisines there's something nice and comforting about basic Italian American style fare. Perhaps it's the warmth and hospitality of the establishment, or the fact that you don't have to speak Italian to understand what all the items are on the menu. On more than one occasion at Auntie Pasto's, when the line to get in was about twenty deep or so, the owner would send out one of the waitresses with a stack of plastic cups and several carafes of house Chianti for those of us waiting in line. That's what I call hospitality.

You can always order an old standard at places like these and walk away at the end of the meal feeling full and happy with money left in your wallet. Humble mounds of spaghetti and meatballs and plates of eggplant Parmesan cooked to perfection and smothered in marinara all taste as if your Italian Grandma (or Auntie in this case) cooked all afternoon just for you.

In addition to all the usual favorites to choose from, there were always the chalk board specials. I can't be sure if the stuffed calamari was on the regular menu back then. It's highly likely I ordered it off of the specials menu. Squid, stuffed with breadcrumbs and ricotta cheese (?), baked and served over a bed of spaghetti marinara.

In this version, I added some chopped clams to the stuffing and went with a pomodoro sauce. It took a little effort to stuff these guys. Perhaps there is a trick to stuffing them like maybe using a pastry bag, but with a little patience I managed to get them filled. Now, the key to cooking calamari is either, cook them forever or cook them quickly, anything in between and you end up with something inedibly reminiscent of a garden hose in texture. I chose to saute the stuffed calamari in a pan with tomato sauce for a few minutes and finish them off under the broiler for another few. They came out pretty tender and not rubbery at all.

When eating out, I'll always look over the daily specials menu. Once in a while I'll try a dish like this and be pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bistec de Pollo Empanizado

Bistec de Pollo Empanizado

If it's breaded and fried I'll usually eat it. Oysters, frog legs, old shoes, I like them all. Luckily for me, just about every cuisine has something breaded or battered and fried on the menu. This evening, I was thinking Cuban.

My favorite Cuban restaurant is a little family run place called El Rincon Criollo in Culver City. Their menu consists of rich, earthy tomato based stews and fall off the bone, roasted chicken and pork generously smothered with mojo de ajo, a sauce made with olive oil, lime juice and lots and lots of garlic. Because the dishes are so hearty, to me anyway, they are the most satisfying when the weather is cold outside and you can stuff yourself without breaking into a sweat. When it's warmer, I'll often opt for one of their empanizado dishes, a lightly breaded and fried piece of chicken or beef served with rice, black beans and fried plantains.

Bistec de Pollo Empanizado

The simplicity of this dish is what's most appealing. Thin crunchy breading on the outside and juicy meat on the inside. The preparation couldn't be more straight forward. Take a chicken breast, dry it off before dipping it in some beaten egg and dredge it in breadcrumbs (I like using Italian style breadcrumbs for all the extra herby bits), fry in oil until golden. Remove from pan, sprinkle with salt and eat. (In my opinion, much of the flavor of fried foods comes from the oil in which it is fried. The dirtier the better. At El Rincon Criollo, order a plate of papas fritas late in the evening and you get to sample the concentrated essence of everything that found it's way into the deep fryer earlier in the day.) It's not unusual for empanizado to be eaten with ketchup on the side. Make the experience complete with rice, black beans and fried plantains.

Here's a little Compay Segundo and The Buena Vista Social Club to set the mood.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Casual Cassoulet


Cassoulet is a traditional southern French casserole consisting of meat and beans. Recipes vary region to region and may include lamb or pork, goose or duck confit, sausages or cured pork products like ham or bacon. The constant, however, seems to be the beans. The classic cassoulet is a hearty meal guaranteed to warm you up as it fills you up.

T1 is a friend of the family that owns Le Petit Cafe, an authentic French bistro in Santa Monica. Chef/owner "R", is originally from the south of France so when I saw cassoulet on his menu, I had to try it, knowing it would be the real deal. Once in a while you eat a meal that exceeds your expectations and this was one of those for me. The cassoulet at Le Petit Cafe is a delicious stew of haricots blancs (white beans), duck confit, (duck slow cooked for several hours in it's own fat), and thin, slightly spicy merguez sausages. It tasted like it had been slowly simmering all day long allowing the flavors to meld into one satisfying whole. Despite the assumed lengthy cooking process, the beans retained their bite, while the duck confit was so soft and tender it literally fell apart. How does he do it? In addition, the chewy merguez, lends yet another savory, textural element to the dish.

This evening was one of those many nights where my cooking ambitions outweighed the ingredients I had to work with but nonetheless I decided to work with what I had and set out to create something in the spirit of (by "in the spirit of" I guess you could say with beans in it) a cassoulet.

Equipped with only a chicken leg, a can of white beans, images of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec paintings and a soundtrack of French accordion music looped in my head, I set forth.

First, I browned the chicken leg. Chicken legs have enough fat that renders out during cooking so just a little oil was necessary. After flipping the chicken to brown the other side, I added sliced onions and garlic and let everything caramelize for a bit. Once a good crust formed in the bottom of the pan, I deglazed it with a couple of cups of chicken broth, careful to scrape up all the concentrated flavor. Next it was time for the aromatics, namely, a few thyme sprigs and a couple of bay leaves. I kept the heat cranked up and reached for the beans.

Now, if I had a whole day to prepare this meal to be enjoyed the next day, I would have used dried beans. From what I've read, dried beans are thirsty little creatures that readily absorb the flavors of whatever they're cooked in, but I wanted to eat preferably in the same day so I went with the canned variety instead. I like to use great northern beans. They seem to hold their shape and bite much better than cannelinis which, maybe due to the brand I most frequently buy, quickly turn to mush once heated up.

So the beans got drained and added to the pan and I also tossed in some diced tomato and a couple of carrots just for color. I put the lid on and let everything simmer on low heat for a while (about forty minutes I think). When I got tired of waiting, I opened the lid and "voila!".

Okay, so it wasn't quite like the cassoulet I remember at Le Petit Cafe, but despite not having merguez sausages or duck confit to put in it or even a proper cassole to cook it in, it came together well and was flavorful nonetheless. One thing I think I did get right is that in keeping with the peasant origins of this dish, you cook what you got and you do your best to make it taste as good as it can be.

Orange Slicing 101

Orange Slicing 101

Hello class. Today we are going to learn how to slice up an orange. I learned this trick from a sushi restaurant on La Cienega T1 and I used to go to called Samurai. After the meal, the waitress would bring out a plate with an orange on it along with the check. Citrus is a refreshing way to cleanse the palate and complete the dining experience (and maybe prepare you for finding out how much money you've just spent).

I've always subscribed to the idea that we eat with our eyes first, then with our mouths and this presentation added the necessary visual aesthetic to precede and enhance the flavor of the orange. (Can you believe I just wrote that?)

Anyway, enough gabbing. Let's move on to our fake lesson.

Step 1: Slice orange in half

Step 2: Cut the end off one of the halves
about a quarter of the way.

Step 3: With a thin bladed knife,
separate the orange flesh from the skin.

Step 4: Remove the flesh from the half
and insert the end you cut off in step 2
into the hollowed out skin

Step 5: Quarter the orange flesh
removed in step 3

Step 6: Place flesh back on top of hollowed orange skin.

Step 7: Add a cocktail pick and mint leaf for garnish and serve.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Yorkshire Meatball

Yorkshire Meatball

Not much in the fridge today. Found a frozen "Aunt Bessie's" Yorkshire pudding, half a pound of ground beef and one potato in the spud drawer and thought I'd have a little fun with them.

I thought, "what would a modern English gastro-pub serve on their menu". In England the traditional pub is quickly going the way of the dodo bird. According to this article on the BBC site, pubs are disappearing at a rate of 36 per week. A shame really because not only do pubs offer locals a nice comfortable environment to get s-faced, they often pull double duty serving as meeting halls, a source for community gossip, and an occasional refuge from irate spouses.

Let's band together and increase our efforts to keep the institution of the English pub around for generations to come. I propose our first step should be to fancy up the traditional pub menu. I'm a fan of pub grub. Standard fair is unpretentious, usually inexpensive, traditional, satisfying, down to earth food that washes down quite nicely with a frosty pint of lager. What we need to offer instead, is ostentatious, over-priced, conspicuously modern cuisine to accompany ostentatious, over-priced, conspicuously modern beverages with names like "the Harvey Corn-wall Banger", the "Birmingham Vomitini" or the "Bishop's Regret". We should address the market demands of the changing demographic by catering to the too well off for frugality, too young to know they're being taken advantage of, twenty-somethings with disposable income. By cheerfully separating said twenty-somethings from their hard earned cash we may someday be able to cross off the noble English pub from the endangered species list.

Here's an example of a dish that could possibly find it's way onto a beleaguered pub's menu near you. "The Yorkshire Meatball".

The description might read something like this: A half pound of prime Oxfordshire, herbed ground sirloin gently formed by hand into a meatball and roasted to perfection, nestled in a fluffy Yorkshire pudding atop rosti potatoes with sage au jus. 18.00 pounds.

Sell enough of these and the English pub will be in danger of disappearing no more.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

Whenever I end up with more produce than I can use, I look for ways to prolong it's edibility. It just makes good "cents". With food prices rising in the markets due to our current economic climate, I, like many, really can't afford to throw anything out. An article in the New York Times published in May of 2008 reports we Americans throw out an estimated, whopping "27 percent of food available for consumption", according to a government study. Truly astounding!

Two Week Old Grape Tomatoes

Lookin' a Little Wrinkley

These grape tomatoes which began to resemble miniature, partially deflated balloons, were getting a little too wrinkly for fresh use in a salad so I figured I could roast them to squeeze a few more uses out of them. Once roasted and jarred, they should last a couple of weeks or so in the fridge.

Some Garlic and Thyme, Salt and Pepper
and Olive Oil

Roasted at 350 for 12 Minutes

The tomatoes were washed and dried and placed on a baking sheet with minced garlic, fresh thyme, salt and pepper, and olive oil and allowed to roast in a 350 degree oven for about 12 minutes. During the roasting process, they pop and dry out a bit. Their flavor intensifies and they kind of take on a flavor of a sun dried tomato that was dried on a cloudy day albeit with thyme and garlic added into the mix.

Lifespan Extended

After they cooled just a bit, I spooned them into a clean jar and added a little more olive oil. I could have filled up the jar with olive oil to displace all the air which probably would have been better for preserving them but olive oil ain't cheap. Now I can use them in my next pasta recipe.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Corned Beef Hash Patties

Corned Beef Hash Patties

You can get a plate of corned beef hash and eggs for breakfast at just about any diner in town. Some places pride themselves on featuring fresh corned beef in their hash, other places jazz up the recipe with the addition of fresh herbs or heavy cream. Even Worcestershire sauce has found it's way into some recipes I've come across. Technically speaking, hash is any dish made up of ingredients that are diced up finely and fried together in a pan so there's quite a lot of leeway when it comes to what constitutes a hash.

My preference when it comes to making corned beef hash is to keep it as simple as possible. I stick to just three ingredients; a can of corned beef, diced onion and potatoes. You can fry it all up loose and sloppy or make them into patties like I do.

In Hawaii, at local okazuya's or old-fashioned Japanese style deli's, you can always find corned beef hash patties ready for your bento box. Often, at these places, the ratio of potato to corned beef is heavy on the potato side of things but if you make your own, you can ensure you get a healthy serving of corned beef in every bite.

To one can of corned beef, I add a diced onion and two medium sized russet potatoes that have been peeled, sliced, cooked and roughly mashed. Mix everything up to incorporate, divide the mixture and roll into balls then pat them down into patties. Stick them in the refrigerator to cool while you heat up a large pan. When the pan is good and hot, pour in about a 1/4 inch of vegetable oil. When the oil begins to ripple, add the patties to the pan and fry them until they form a crispy crust.

Chinese Style Steamed Cod with Lup Cheong Sausage and Oyster Sauce

Steamed Cod with Lup Cheong Sausage and Oyster Sauce

One of my favorite and easiest ways to prepare fish is to steam it Chinese style. The classic way I grew up eating it is to steam a fillet, top it with julienned ginger, green onions, Chinese parsley (or cilantro) and pour soy sauce and hot peanut oil over it. The hot oil carries the flavor of the toppings over the whole fish and creates a tasty gravy to eat with your accompanying rice.

This preparation works well with most kinds of fish. You can use any white fleshed fish like cod, orange roughy or snapper or even salmon.

In this version, since I didn't have any fresh ginger or cilantro on hand, I improvised and went with lup cheong, a slightly sweet, dry, Chinese pork sausage with the texture of a dry salami, and sliced green onion. If you have ever had char siu (Chinese roast pork), lup cheong tastes similar in flavor only in sausage form.

I steamed a cod fillet and lup cheong slices together for a few minutes, transferred everything to a plate, arranging the lup cheong and green onions on the fillet and drizzled some oyster sauce over it all. The flavors were brought together with a couple of tablespoons of hot oil.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bacon Egg Spaghetti

Bacon Egg Spaghetti

This is sort of the Italian/Japanese version of the bacon and egg yakisoba I posted about earlier. I fry bacon in a wok and pour off most of the oil, add leftover spaghetti and stir fry a bit until warmed, crack an egg over the whole thing and stir it up again and allow it to scramble. That's all there is to it. Nothing fancy really.

On this day, I sprinkled furikake over it and garnished with kaiware (daikon radish) sprouts, Itameshiya style.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Years Eve Lasagna

New Years Eve Lasagna

Food humorist/writer/poet extraordinaire, Calvin Trillin, single-handedly launched a campaign to make spaghetti carbonara the national dish for Thanksgiving. I first learned of his coup attempt to unseat the roasted turkey as America's thanksgiving day centerpiece when I read the story in a passage in the New York City Cookbook. A few years later, I listened to it when National Public Radio aired the story.

In the essay, Calvin Trillin begins his amusing if not logical argument citing, "It does not take much historical research to uncover the fact that nobody knows if the Pilgrims really ate turkey at the first Thanksgiving dinner". Here's a link to the rest of the story to see where he goes with his argument.

This year, New Year's Eve fell on a Wednesday and other than the occasional barrage of fireworks and celebratory gunfire from the next block over, it felt like any other uneventful midweek day. I couldn't come up with a good justification for having lasagna but I thought, nobody needs an excuse to eat lasagna, after all, it's lasagna. So that's what we had, New Year's Eve lasagna in homage to Calvin Trillin's Thanksgiving spaghetti carbonara.

Here's a short sampling of the dry wit of Calvin Trillin.